If you have never seen or tasted a cheese curd you might not be anxious to put one in your mouth because “cheese curd” is kind of a strange name and doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of something tasty. But a cheese curd is very tasty. I think once you try one you’ll be eating a lot more of them!
I’m from Wisconsin and grew up eating cheese curds (and yes, lots of other cheese too). I thought everyone ate cheese curds and that you could buy them anywhere. When I grew up and started to travel outside of the state I learned in a hurry that a lot of things were different and that cheese curds were a specialty item only available in areas that produced cheese. That’s changed a little bit now. Cheese curds, along with a wide variety of other types of cheeses, are more readily available in all areas of the United States.
What are cheese curds? Most cheese curds (at least most of the ones made in Wisconsin) are a cheddar cheese product, but think baby cheddar cheese or newborn cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese curds are what cheddar cheese is before it is pressed into a block and aged (cheddar cheese you see in your grocery store is aged at least 60 days and up to 10 years for the really sharp cheddar cheeses).
Cheese curds are a very fresh product and have the best flavor if they are eaten the same day they are made. But going to a cheese factory and purchasing cheese curds the same day they are made is not an option for many people.
Cheese curds are still very tasty a few days after they’re made, but after a week or so they start to lose their flavor very quickly. Although “fresh” cheese curds may be available at your local supermarket, it’s likely they are at least one to two weeks old by the time they reach the store’s dairy case. Don’t buy them from your supermarket or grocery store (unless you’re certain they really are fresh). Instead order directly from a cheese factory via the Internet or phone. Look for a place that ships the cheese curds the same day they are made (do an Internet search for “cheese curds” – there will be lots of choices of businesses that send cheese curds out the same day they make them). You’ll be glad you went to the trouble of ordering the freshest cheese curds possible.
Cheese curds are available in several flavors. Although the traditional yellow cheese curds are the most popular and most widely available, I’ve also seen and tried white cheddar cheese curds in addition to the following flavors: garlic, dill, jalapeno (they have a “kick” to them), Cajun (also have a “kick” to them), pesto, chipotle (these are spicy too), and paprika. Cheese curds have a smooth texture. Plain cheese curds have a mild salty flavor. They come in their natural shape and form which is small random chunks.
Although most cheese curds are made from cheddar cheese; colby, mozzarella, and monterey jack cheese curds are also available.
One fun thing about cheese curds is that they “squeak.” A fresh cheese curd will make a squeaky noise while you’re eating it. That’s one of the reasons why kids love to eat cheese curds (and many adults too).
Besides eating them fresh, another yummy way to eat a cheese curd is to deep-fry it (which, like deep frying a mushroom, turns a cheese curd into a not so healthy but really great tasting food). You can purchase special batter mixes made especially for cheese curds, but general purpose batter mixes like Golden Dipt All Purpose Batter Mix (made by McCormick) works fine. But my personal favorite type of batter for deep fried cheese curds is beer batter (have I mentioned I’m from Wisconsin?).
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to try cheese curds, I hope you try them soon. I think you’ll be glad you did. Happy eating!
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D Ruplinger is a featured writer for www.likecheese.com. Visit the web site for more information about different types of cheeses including cheddar cheese along with cheese recipes.
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